– Adam Wainwright can become the first National League to reach 15 wins, but to get there, he’ll have to outpitch Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who is 12-7 with a 2.89 ERA that ranks seventh in the NL. Wainwright is fifth at 2.61. Oddly enough, Rodriguez is 3-7 against the Cardinals in his career, even though he’s limited Albert Pujols to a .120 average and no extra-base hits or RBI in 25 at-bats.
– After No. 7 takes on No. 5 in St. Louis, No. 6 and No. 3 will duel in San Francisco. Arizona‘s Dan Haren was the NL’s most effective pitcher in the first half, but he’s 3-3 with a 4.91 ERA since the break, dropping him behind five pitchers. Cain currently has a 2.4305 ERA, while teammate Lincecum is at 2.4281. Both are trailing Chris Carpenter at 2.16.
– 25-year-old right-hander Armando Gabino will make his major league debut for the Twins tonight after going 5-3 with a 2.83 ERA, 65 H and 55/22 K/BB in 86 IP for Triple-A Rochester. A reliever for most of the year, he had made just five starts — and one of those was an abbreviated three-inning outing Friday to put him in line to pitch tonight. Gabino throws in the low-90s consistently as a reliever and has displayed an improved changeup this year. He’s a long shot to last as a starting pitcher, but he’s proven to be a nice find for a guy originally picked up in the minor league Rule 5 draft.
Game of the Night
Los Angeles vs. Colorado – With the NL West gap down to three games after the Rockies’ walkoff grand slam against the Giants last night, the Dodgers travel to Colorado to begin a three-game series tonight. The Dodgers would seem to have the right pitcher on the mound in Clayton Kershaw, but they’ve actually lost each of the left-hander’s last six starts, even though he has allowed just 11 runs during the span. Plus, Kershaw is 2-3 with a 6.07 ERA against Colorado in his career. The Rockies will throw Jason Hammel, who like Kershaw, is 8-7 on the season. It will be a rematch of a July 1 game which the Dodgers won 1-0, leaving Hammel with a complete-game loss. The difference is that tonight’s contest will be in Coors Field, where Hammel is 2-3 with a 7.02 ERA this season.
After 71 years, the Cubs are headed back to the Fall Classic.
The dominance with which Clayton Kershaw attacked the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS was nonexistent in Game 6 as the Dodgers’ ace loaded the bases to start the first inning and scattered five extra bases and five runs over five frames. By the time Dave Roberts pulled his starter in the sixth inning, Kershaw was sitting on a Game Score of 33, the lowest he’s mustered since the start of the 2015 season. Only one of his strikes came via curveball, and whether he was having difficulty locating his off-speed stuff or felt more confident with the fastball-slider combo, it was the fewest curves he’d seen land for strikes all year (per David Adler).
Where the Dodgers were able to give Kershaw the edge in Game 2, they found themselves powerless against opposing hurler Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks turned out 7 1/3 scoreless frames with two hits and six strikeouts, preserving the Cubs’ second shutout of the postseason and the first since they bested the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. After his 1-0 loss to the Dodgers early in the NLCS, seeing the MLB ERA leader turn out a gem was a relief for the Cubs, especially one as spectacular as an 88-pitch two-hitter.
With Hendricks effectively stymieing the Dodgers’ best attempts to get on base, the Cubs played to their strengths at the plate. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist cleared the bases in the first inning for a two-run lead, followed by a Dexter Fowler RBI single in the second. Willson Contreras came through in the fourth inning for the Cubs, lifting an 87 m.p.h. slider to left field for his first home run of October, while Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer of the postseason on a 1-1 fastball in the fifth.
Neither bullpen allowed a single run from the sixth inning onward. Dodgers’ right-hander Kenley Jansen took the ball from Kershaw in the sixth, scattering four strikeouts over three innings and denying the Cubs so much as a single baserunner through the end of the game. Aroldis Chapman, meanwhile, issued just one walk in 1 1/3 scoreless frames, inducing a Yasiel Puig double play to clinch the Cubs’ 17th franchise pennant.
With the win, the Cubs will face off against the Indians in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at 8 PM EDT. And, in case you needed a reminder:
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.